Following a 1-12 season in 2021 and a seventh place prediction in the Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason poll, the Sacred Heart University men’s lacrosse team looks to defy expectations and make some noise in the NEC as their season takes off.
“We know what happened last year and we realize that we can’t dwell on the past and we all must focus on the present,” said senior Donavon Lacey. “When we win the day, we move towards making us a better program.”
Lacey is one of the six Pioneers named to the “leadership council” by head coach Jon Basti. In his three seasons at Sacred Heart University, Lacey has put together 9 goals, 82 ground balls and 33 caused turnovers, as well as being named a First-Team All-NEC selection last season.
The other five leaders for Sacred Heart include graduate student Conor Sullivan, seniors Thomas Houlihan, Alex Weiss, and Max Lionetti and junior Nick Handy.
Basti believed the leadership among the upperclassmen was too strong to only appoint two captains this season.
“Each man brings something different to the group and has the ability to use their individual skills to help forward the culture of our program,” Basti told Sacred Heart Athletics.
Lacey has played through an NEC playoff loss to Saint Joseph’s back in 2019, a canceled NEC tournament in 2020 and a missed playoff contention last season. Despite the adversity he and his teammates have faced, Lacey takes on the mentality that whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
“Being here for four years and seeing the highs we have had as well as our lows, I have learned not to be phased when things get tough because as seen in the past, they have,” says Lacey. “For me, it’s making sure everyone has the same mentality going to every practice, every film session, lift and so on and so forth.”
Sacred Heart picked up its first win of the season on Feb. 25 against Connecticut rival Quinnipiac University. Sophomore Sal Miccio picked up a goal and three assists in the effort.
Miccio made headlines in his rookie season last year as a dependable scorer for the Pioneers and was ranked fourth in the NEC in shot percentage at .415.
“It’s not about executing things differently, it’s more about executing what works for our team,” said Miccio. “Executing every game plan that our coaches provide to us for each game and playing with the confidence we have will help win us games on a consistent basis and lead us to a conference championship.”
In a conference that has been primarily dominated by Bryant University with six NEC championships since the inception of the tournament in 2011, the Pioneers have aspirations of giving Bryant a run for their money.
“As a team, I believe we all have the same goal of winning the conference,” said Miccio. “It’s not an easy job, and it’s never given to us, it’s earned through the hard work and dedication that I truly believe our team has.”
Not to mention, the NEC is home to five top 50 programs in the nation including No. 14 Bryant, No. 24 Saint Joseph’s, No. 31 Hobart University, No. 42 Merrimack University and No. 49 Mount St. Mary’s University, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rankings from the end of the 2021 season.
“Our goal is to be the best version of ourselves and play to our full potential every game,” said junior Ryan Stout. “When we are playing with confidence, I believe there is no limit to what we can achieve.”
Upcoming games for the Pioneers include home games against Hobart College on Saturday, March 19 and Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday, March 26.
Sacred Heart Athletics Contributed to this Article.